Non-surgical alternatives for penile reconstruction primarily involve approaches that do not require major surgical procedures to create a neophallus (newly constructed penis). It’s important to note that these alternatives may not provide the same level of anatomical and functional outcomes as surgical options, but they can be considered by individuals who prefer non-surgical approaches or are not suitable candidates for surgery. Here are some non-surgical alternatives:
- Prosthetic Devices: Penile prosthetic devices, such as external prosthetic penises (sometimes called packers), are non-surgical options that can provide the appearance of a penis. These devices can be worn in underwear or harnesses to create a more masculine appearance. Some individuals find these prosthetics helpful for daily life and comfort.
- Penile Extenders: Penile extenders are non-invasive devices that use traction to gradually increase the length of the existing genital tissue. They are typically used to enhance the appearance of the genitalia but do not provide a functional neophallus. The effectiveness of these devices can vary, and results may take time.
- Hormone Therapy: Hormone therapy (testosterone) can induce clitoral growth in transgender men and individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB). While this growth is usually not sufficient for penetrative intercourse, some individuals may experience an increase in size and sensation in the genital area, which can alleviate gender dysphoria.
- Vaginoplasty for Gender-Affirming Care: In some cases, individuals may opt for vaginoplasty (gender-affirming surgery to create a neovagina) instead of phalloplasty or metoidioplasty. Vaginoplasty is a surgical procedure that involves altering the existing genitalia to create a neovagina. This approach is chosen by individuals whose primary goal is to align their physical characteristics with their gender identity while maintaining their existing genital configuration.
- Counseling and Therapy: Psychological counseling and therapy can be valuable non-surgical alternatives for individuals experiencing gender dysphoria. Counseling can help individuals explore their feelings, manage dysphoria, and develop coping strategies without undergoing surgery.